The other day, I was stuck in traffic on the way to work. So, what? This happens every day. And, every day I complain about it. This day was no better, either. I took the opportunity to complain about it to my mother and my grandfather and my friends. However, as I neared Gurgaon, I realized that something was very wrong. The traffic wasn’t moving at all and the flyover to enter Gurgaon was completely blocked. I started getting furious and began thinking about how difficult it was to live in Delhi.
“How can a person even function efficiently in such circumstances?” I questioned my mother on WatsApp.
I asked the driver to turn the cab and take another route. Like me, several others had also thought of the “other route”, and we moved briefly just to get stuck in a narrow lane after a while. I was supremely disgusted. I needed to get to the office and I was getting so late! I think it was over an hour and a half now, that I had been stuck in the cab. Over-consumed by my sense of self-importance, I sat and grumbled to myself about how I couldn’t achieve way more because of this dreadful traffic.
After a while, I realized that the traffic wouldn’t move, so I got off the car and started walking in the middle of the road, trying to flag an auto, so that I could take a narrower lane and reach office. Gurgaon is permanently under construction. Hence, walking on the road is equivalent to walking through waves of dust. By now, I was thoroughly frustrated, and mentally complaining to myself about my life and my hardships.
Thankfully, an auto guy saw me, stopped and agreed to drop to the destination I had been trying to reach since morning. When I finally reached my office, I realized that I didn’t have any notes of a lesser denomination to pay the driver. I only had a 2000 rupee note. Of course, I wasn’t to blame for this, either. Ever since “the demonetization”, all these problems had cropped up. So, I sheepishly told the auto driver that I didn’t have change and hoped that he would come up with a miraculous resolution to this new issue.
He replied, “It’s ok if you don’t have change.”
I wasn’t sure if I’d heard him correctly. So, I asked him, “Ok, as in…?
He repeated again, “If you don’t have change, it’s fine. What can you do?”
It slowly dawned upon me that he was basically alright with giving me a free ride. He was just letting go of the money he was entitled to. Suddenly, I felt a huge rush of shame. Here I was, more than happy to find faults with everything I came across. And this driver was alright with transporting me to my destination for free. I felt guilty and realized how caught up I was in my little bubble. This person obviously also had issues in his life, and even then he was so compassionate and helpful. He had a right to make my life difficult because he was entitled to this money but he didn’t.
Are we really so caught up in our “important lives” that we’ve forgotten how to be compassionate? This incident was one of the greatest learnings for me this month.
So, what happened after that? Did I change miraculously and turn over a new leaf instantaneously. No, I didn’t. Because change doesn’t happen so quickly. But, I became a lot more aware of my shortcomings. I realized that spoiling my mood and everyone else’s mood because of traffic is not justified. Sitting in an AC cab and complaining about the traffic outside is easy to do but it doesn’t help anything. I realized that it’s easy to talk about compassion, but not so easy to practice it. And, I needed that realization drastically. Also, instead of complaining, I’m trying to use my time more efficiently in the cab. Will let you know how that’s coming along in my next post!
Let me know about similar experiences which you’ve had and which have made you stop and take a long hard look at yourself.
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